The Huntingdon Elm (Ulmus x hollandica ‘Vegeta’) is a hybrid of smooth-leaved elm and the wych elm, with origins in the 18th century. As a cultivar it is not considered a native tree, although it was originally raised in the Huntingdon nursery Wood & Ingram in 1746.
It is a tall, fast-growing tree, commonly growing to 35 metres, with relatively straight branches extending out of a short bole. When mature, the bark of the tree has distinctive bark ridges, covered with a lattice pattern that creates crossing fissures. The bark is grey to dark grey, and twigs are covered with coarse hairs. Its leaves are toothed, oval and glossy on the upper side, with tufts of hair at the vein joints on the underside. The base of the leaves is characteristically asymmetric, and the leaves taper abruptly to a fine point.
The Huntingdon Elm appears to have some resistance to Dutch Elm Disease, which means that it can still occasionally be seen in parks and hedges. The trees surrounding the Pavilion Gardens Cafe were planted in 1940 and 1967 respectively, and are still thriving, healthy specimens, much appreciated by visitors and wildlife. The elm seeds provide food for many bird species, and the green, glossy leaves are eaten by the caterpillars of various moth species, e.g. the white letter hairstreak butterfly, the peppered light emerald, and the white spotted pinion moth.